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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Jan 6, 2007 6:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Humbly submitted: GrendelschoiceTopTen

William...excellent question. I do find a difference w/my beloved '77 shows, but in no way does that diminish how I feel about a great '81 or '73.

The difference is that I feel you could pick virtually any show from '77 (and I had a hard time leaving 5-17, 5-25, 5-4, and some others off the list) and be confident you were goinf to get a fluid, yet jamming performance. Take a song like HALF STEP, for example. Listen to any version prior to '77, or after...there are some nice ones, yes. But do any of them feature the crescendo jams found in, for examaple, 11-6-77? Jerry nails all the words, the song sounds effortless, AND it rocks.

I just feel that there was a choppiness to the sound after '77...like the boys were drifting more into each playing their own thing at the same time rather than achieving a simultaneous whole of flowing together in the same musical river. Now, sometimes, those experiments worked beautifully,(see the 10-12-84) and the addition of Brent was a necessary element to moving the band's sound forward (he was also superior vocally to Donna in every way, which is why my favorite STELLA is from 4-19-82 and not some '77 show)....I guess what I feel separates '77 is that consistent precision COMBINED with the sick jams...I think a song like PLAYIN', which they seemed to play at virtually every show in '77, shows how great they were that year. Pick any from that year and they were all top notch, bridging beautifully into other songs like Terrapin, Wharf Rat, Comes a Time, etc.

One thing critics have rightly pointed out about '77 is that there is not a lot of variety in the set lists. (and no Birdsong--man, I would LOVE to have heard them do that tune that year). I actually think this is part of the reason they played so well. They were concentrating on many of the same tunes, and so had them nailed down well. That's OK w/me, but I can understand how a more ambitious listener might prefer a '76 set list that's all over the map...but objectively, playing-wise, i don't think can even come close to the power and majesty of '77.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 6, 2007 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Humbly submitted: GrendelschoiceTopTen

Very sharp analysis; I like that. I can't describe the differences as well, but felt (at the time I was going) that there were significant differences, and I stopped going (81). Might have had as much to do with the changing scene as anything.